National Football League
                    === Schwartz gets the axe in Detroit ===
 Allen  Park,  MI (  -  The  Detroit  Lions fired  coach  Jim
 Schwartz on Monday following a late-season meltdown
 Detroit  had a 6-3  record following a win in Chicago on Nov. 10, but lost six
 of its last seven games to finish a disappointing 7-9.
 The  Lions  appeared to be a  team on the  rise after reaching the playoffs in
 2011  with a  10-6 record behind a  young nucleus. The club, however, won only
 four games the next season and squandered a prime opportunity to seize control
 of a weakened NFC North this year.
 Detroit's  two main rivals for the division title, Green Bay and Chicago, both
 played  without their  starting  quarterbacks for  extended  stretches in  the
 second half.
 Schwartz  took over the Lions in 2009 and inherited a team coming off the only
 0-16  season  in NFL  history. He  finished his five-year  tenure with a 29-51
 record and one winning season.
 "When  (Schwartz) got  here in 2009, we  were coming off an 0-16 season and we
 have come some distance since then, but the simple fact is that we have fallen
 short of the expectations of our ownership and those expectations are simple,"
 said Lions president Tom Lewand at a Monday press conference.
 "They  very strongly want to bring a consistently winning football team to the
 fans of the city of Detroit, and we fell short of that  and the  decision that
 was  made  today  was a  direct  reflection  of  falling  short of  that  goal
 and, quite simply, we didn't win enough football games."
 Finishing 2-14 in the first year under Schwartz, the team improved to 6-10 the
 following  year before  earning its first trip to the playoffs since 1999. The
 Lions lost at New Orleans in the wild card round.
 The  team  showed flashes of its  vast potential under Schwartz, especially on
 offense thanks to the quarterback-wide receiver tandem of Matthew Stafford and
 Calvin Johnson.
 However,  the team  was  constantly plagued  by  sloppy play  in  the form  of
 turnovers and bad penalties, along with numerous second-half collapses.
 Offensive  coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Tim Lappano were
 also fired.
 12/30 14:28:49 ET